Tuesday, March 13, 2007

A trip to the the-ah-tah

Hey, I finally have an opportunity to put to use my thousands of dollars worth of theatre education in my blog! Cool!

Went to see the Soulpepper production of Bertolt Brecht's The Threepenny Opera tonight at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. This is a new, permanent home for Soulpepper, and an amazing space.

When I read the production review in The Star, I learned that this was Soulpepper's first attempt at musical theatre (intriguing to say the least) and that they had drawn their cast from a variety of theatre disciplines, from street performers to musical theatre to apprentice actors. I really enjoyed Jennifer Villaverde's Lucy who was evidently opera trained.

The band was fantastic, with really talented multi-instrument musicians. Specifically the pianist and the woodwind specialist, who played everything from a piccolo to a tenor sax. Of course the best song was Mac the Knife, but I really enjoyed the all women trio and duet pieces as well.

Brecht has had such an impact on theatre of the 20th century that anything I could write here would sound like a simplification of theatre history. Suffice to say, the terms Brechtian and "epic theatre" describe performances where the audience remains emotionally distant, usually acheived by using alienation techniques. In his day, it was unheard of to break the fourth wall which he did by addressing the audience directly either by speech, song and placards. Soulpepper stripped the stage bare and used visceral props such as hunks of raw meat and cleavers to try and produce the allienation effect as many of the old methods do not work due to audiences' exposure to progressive theatre.

I went to see the production with my uncle, so got a great take on what it was like to watch for purely performance values and not be bogged down by preconceptions and years of professors lectures. Entertainment value was high and laughs were loud. Well worth the price of admission!

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